Heirloom & Perennial Ltd

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Onobrychis viciifolia, Sainfoin


A good border plant for the vegetable garden, the deep tap root helps to break up the sub-soil. A good bee plant.

A good soil conditioner for poor light soils. The plants can be grown on the land for a number of years, the deep tap roots breaking up the sub-soil and bringing up minerals from below.

Plants can be cut during the growing season but care must be taken not to cut too low because the tap root tends to rise above ground level and the plant can be killed if this is cut off. The plant has an extensive root system and is useful for stabilizing soils.

This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby.

Plants are resistant to alfalfa stem nematodes and are immune to bacterial wilt disease and attacks by the alfalfa stem weevil.

Prefers a well-drained neutral to alkaline sandy loam in full sun. Succeeds in poor soils and in shallow soils over chalk. Dislikes shade. Does not succeed in wet soils.

Pre-soak for 12 hours in warm water and sow in situ in the spring. Seed can also be sown in situ in the autumn.

If seed is in short supply then it might be wiser to sow it in pots in a cold frame in early spring. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer.

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